Continuous motorway from Calais to Romania’s most famous road is now on the horizon.
Despite the announcement in June that no new roads would open in Romania this year, a significant stretch of the western A1 came on stream this afternoon.
The new 22km section includes the 1km Aciliu viaduct, the longest in Romania, and plugs the final gap in the A1 Sibiu-Sebes-Deva, close to Romania’s two famous mountain passes.
Sebes sits at the head of D67C Transalpina while Sibiu is just thirty miles west of Carta, at the top of D7C Transfagarasan.
English-speakers might struggle with the fact that the new road runs between the villages of Saliste and Cunta.
The new road (marked in blue, above) represents a technical achievement in a geologically unstable region. A planned tunnel before the viaduct was abandoned in favour of a cutting. The resulting landslides dogged the construction throughout. It was originally intended to open last spring along with the other new sections of A1.
It was built a mainly local consortium led by Italian firm Impreglio. The entire 115km highway Sibiu-Deva cost €784m, the vast majority from EU funds according to Romania-Insider.com.
Having driven this exact stretch of road in May 2013 – coincidentally among the first drivers to use part of A1, opened without fanfare – it is clear to us that the new dual carriageway will bring welcome relief for the heavy traffic on this main route between Romania and Western Europe.
The remaining sections of western A1 still to be built are not insignificant (marked in red, above) but all are currently under construction. Meanwhile, the Hungarians are building an extension of the M43 motorway from Szeged to the Romanian border at Nadlac.
Finger crossed, by the end of 2015 there will be continuous motorway for the 1,500 miles from Calais to Transfagarasan.
Last month, Romania unveiled a highly modified road building plan. Many of the roads previously intended to be motorways have been downgraded to – cheaper and easier to build – expressways.
This includes the all-important Sibiu-Pitesti stretch of the A1 across the Carpathian mountains which southern Carpathian car maker Dacia lobbied so hard to have prioritised.
According to the plan, the bare bones of a fast road network should start to emerge by 2020.